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By Ciaran Meagher
(@CiaranMeagher3)
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2021 Masters

Introduction:

I can’t think of anything good that the Covid Era has given us until now, a second Masters in the space of just 5 months. I don’t know why, but this week simply soars above all others for me in both anticipation and enjoyment stakes. The fact the players return to the same venue year on year helps set The Masters apart, but it’s that venue itself which grips the imagination of more than just your average golf fan.

Augusta National is surely one of the most beautiful sporting arenas in the world, with a set up that allows for drama, delight and disaster in equal measure. A Par 72, which comes in on the card as just under 7500 yards, but in reality plays quite a bit longer than that. Par 5 scoring, missing in the right spot, second shot golf course, lightning fast greens, risk and reward, and wrong side of the hole are all phrases you will hear mentioned in discussion about this great layout. All are certainly true. You will also hear about azaleas. We will probably also hear about the Ryder Cup. The azaleas are fine. Ryder Cup talk this week will bring a scowl. There will also be chat about how it is unusual for a player to really contend here on debut, it will generally take one of a rare breed to do so. Course form importance and how much it should be factored into the market is something which is debated weekly, and those on opposing sides will rarely ever agree. But here at Augusta, even the most anti course form buff, would have to agree that this week’s test is very much a peak horses for courses layout. It is unlikely that we see a shock, the cream has not only been rising to the top in this major recently, but in all of them. You have to go back to Keegan Bradley in 2011 to find a major winner outside the Top 50 in the OWGR.

Winning scores have varied over the years, with 13 to 15 under par being a popular bracket recently, but Bubba and Trevor Immelman got it done on -8 in 2008 and 2012. Bubba did require a playoff at that 8 under total, which was 12 shots worse than the superb -20 which DJ produced 5 months ago. It remains to be seen how relevant that November Masters will be to this and future editions, with conditions late in the year meaning the infamous Augusta greens had lost much of their zip and bite. What relevance it will have though for this years set up, is I very much doubt members will want anything like 20 under par to be threatened for the second year on the trot. They have pride in the test here, and with conditions already said to be very firm and fast, I would take an early stab at 12/13 under par being good enough this time around. It won’t be target practise for the world’s best, it will require seriously good iron play, and nerves of steel on the greens. Wind is forecast for Friday, and that may bring some rain, but that will be quickly absorbed. Buckle up, it’s going to be a good one.

Be sure to shop around before placing your bets, it is typically a week where bookies will do anything they can to get
your custom (especially if a new customer) and the place terms with most are very much in the punters favour.

Outright Market:

Players of Interest:

So many! I mentioned in my last preview of this event that with the place terms on offer, given how well the top players play the venue year on year, that you could just back the top 5 or 6 in the betting here each way to extended places, and be likely to make a profit from that very simplistic approach. I will try to be somewhat more adventurous!

I will first go through some big names, and players with obvious chances, that for one reason or another I have avoided this week.

Market leader and defending champion is Dustin Johnson, and he deserves the utmost of respect. Up until Sunday I would have said he was a deserving favourite, but I have since changed my viewpoint. Either way, I just wasn’t convinced enough on a few fronts to be taking the 9/1 on offer. I made the case for him at 7/1 in the Texas Open last week prior to his withdrawal, but this is a different kettle of fish, and though I don’t think he has done much wrong lately he clearly doesn’t come here in the same shape as last year. Softer November conditions may also have helped in that romp, and he really wasn’t put under any pressure on the final day. It was only his second major win, he has dodged many in the past when asked a question, and though 9/1 to 10 places will likely yield a dividend I just prefer a few others.

One I have no interest in once again is Bryson DeChambeau. He isn’t the crazy price he was here last year, but he isn’t a whole lot bigger either. He is yet to figure out the greens here, and the pace of them this time around is unlikely to help on that front. It will be interesting to see how he approaches it, but I would doubt he is as gung ho as he was 5 months ago.

Many will have plumped for Jon Rahm, and I can see their point. Those that have backed him because his wife just had a baby though need to go and have a talk to themselves. ‘Nappy Factor’ is something you hear about when a player wins after recently becoming a father. All the other recent fathers who dont win, you just don’t hear about them. Maybe if you’re looking for another positive in a 200/1 shot, but making it your reason to back a 12/1 shot is crazy. Rahm is slowly but surely beginning to master Augusta, but I still have doubts about whether he is putting well enough to contend here.

Justin Thomas was the hardest of the market leaders to leave out. I think he is sure to contend. Backing him each way at 12/1 with 8/9 places certainly isn’t a bad bet. Such are the place terms this week, that plenty of players will appeal, and so many appear decent bets. We were on board JT when he won The Players, and the big thing there was he won despite a pretty poor putting show. His iron play was immense, and he has a habit of stringing multiple top class efforts together when he really finds his range from the fairways. He’s a danger, a big danger, but you can’t back them all and I have just come down on the side of leaving him out.

I backed Rory McIlroy in November, believing the softer terrain and him coming in slightly under the radar, may help him finally seal the deal here. Once again he got off to a poor start, and yet again played very well when it was too late to mount a serious challenge. Worryingly he mentioned he is often physically sick ahead of Augusta, such is his inner need to win this. That isn’t good, and can explain his poor starts, akin to what happened in the 2019 Open. He hasn’t been playing his best of late, and is now starting to tinker with his game and team, it will be a serious achievement to win this week all things considered.

Xander Schauffele was also on the team sheet then, but after an excellent start to 2021 he has somewhat tapered off in recent weeks. This is a test made for the man who thrives in these limited field events, but it is now getting a bit of a worry that he hasn’t sealed the deal on Sunday’s for such a length of time, and I can let him go this time around.

I didn’t expect to have to write about Brooks Koepka this week. If he was fully fit 25/1 would be very big indeed. It’s still a shade tempting, but Augusta is a tough walk on top of everything else, and one wonders how his knee will hold up. He clearly hasn’t been practising as he otherwise would in recent weeks, and I have to let him run here.

I had to nearly peel myself off the floor a few weeks ago when told that Lee Westwood was as short as 33/1 for this. You could play this 133 times, and I doubt Westwood would win it. A few others I also feel are too short in the 33-80/1 range, but I will discuss them when covering the various Alternative Market bets later.

A few bigger priced players who may be worth a look at inflated prices on the exchange are Matt Kuchar, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Marc Leishman, and Si Woo Kim. Bezuidenhout was the closest to selection for an each way outright selection, but I have preferred to get him on side later on. 270 on the machine is worth a fiver though.

Now for those that I have backed! The common theme amongst them is that I very much feel that strong iron play is going to be the crucial factor this week. Obviously with the greens set to play as fast as they are, lag putting from distance and nerveless putting from the 6ft range will also play their part, but hitting accurate approaches will help massively on both fronts.

I am going to start with a player that I have very rarely backed, but believe him to be a cracking bet this week, COLLIN MORIKAWA. Winner of last year’s PGA Championship, he has the potential to be the best iron player the game has seen since Tiger Woods. Quite simply from the fairways he is the best there is at the moment, and what I love about him is he knows what he is good at, and has no interest in trying to compete with the big hitters from the tee. He will get it in play, and go to work. He has now won 4 times on Tour, with the latest of them the WGC Workday at The Concession. His tee to green game there was at its superb best, and with the putter behaving than is typically the case, he notched a 3 shot victory. His two outings since that haven’t troubled the judge, but that’s no harm. He showed with a closing 66 at Sawgrass that he is very much operating at full throttle, and a group exit in the Matchplay ensures his odds here are bigger than one would have expected.

Another comparison with Tiger is that this kid knows how to win. Having only turned professional less than two years ago, it is quite the feat to have already won 4 times on Tour. His last 20 starts have yielded 3 wins, and not in any run of the mill events. He took down none other than Justin Thomas at Muirfield Village (another Tiger haunt), before going on to land his maiden major in the PGA at Harding Park. Interestingly, that win came 3 starts after the Muirfield victory, with two non threatening run outs in between. His latest win was in that WGC at The Concession. What was interesting there was not only did he hole more than his fair share of putts to complement his excellent approach play, but he also alluded to how the greens reminded him of Augusta. Constantly picking Mark O’Meara’s brains about improving his putting can certainly do no harm ahead of this test. When Morikawa putts well, he is very hard to beat.

He made his debut here last year, and given how intelligent this young man is, I expect him to have learnt plenty. He would be following in the steps of Jordan Spieth, Danny Willett and Charl Schwartzel in winning here on his second start. Again I will hark back to how important I believe iron play will be here this week. In his first full season on Tour in 2019 he was 2nd in strokes gained approach to green, a department he leads this year. He has spoken about the knowledge he gained last year, in what areas to miss in, and what he can’t do this time around. So accurate is he, I expect him to carry it out pretty much as he wants. To be the same price that Lee Westwood was 3 weeks ago is one of the craziest things I have ever seen, and there is plenty of juice in the price of this prolific winner.

The return to the summit of the game of JORDAN SPIETH has been a very heartwarming story. Just two months ago, he seemed to be someone in need of a break from the game. New caddy, new coach, many might have even thought new job! But Jordan stuck with the process, he had faith in himself and those around him, and from Phoenix onwards he has been pretty much the Spieth of old. And it hasn’t been sparked by a hot putter, but the more solid foundation of hitting more fairways, and being back to his brilliant best from them.

He will divide opinion like no one else this week. Many find it hard to get past what prices players were a few weeks/months ago. Things change quickly in this game, and the return to his best of Jordan Spieth has been not only quick, but relentless. He needs to be priced up on the here and now, and what he has consistently shown in his last 7 outings suggest that what went on the two years before that is confined to the past. I passed him over last week as I felt he was maybe struggling to get that all important next win, but he once again proved his strength of mind with a superb Sunday display to hold off a strangely stubborn Charley Hoffman. The belief that will have given him is hard to overstate, and all things considered the Golden Child should be favourite. To my eye the
most critical factor is how good he once again is in that 50-75 yard range, the range which requires so much touch and trust. He’s back.

And then we have the Augusta factor. Previous course form quite simply does matter here. Even when Spieth was struggling with his game in the early part of 2018, he very nearly pulled off a miracle win here. But for being an inch out with his tee shot on the 72nd hole, he very well may have won his second Green Jacket. One he should have won two years earlier. From 2014 to 2018, Spieth was beaten by just 14 players in those 5 years. I don’t need to go on about his record here, it’s well known, and not a surprise to oddsmakers. But if the last 7 weeks happened in 2017 I believe Jordan would be lining up here as a 13/2 shot. Somewhere in between that and the 11/1 on offer is probably right. He was absolutely clutch on Sunday in Texas, and I expect him to hit the ground running this week.

I believe PATRICK CANTLAY will win a Masters title during his career, and as long as he is arriving here in decent nick and 20/1+ I will be backing him. Having now served his apprenticeship around here, I expect he is ready to take the next step and win it. It was a long time, kept away by injury and personal tragedy, between his debut here in 2012 and his return to miss the cut in 2018. But he took an education from those two visits, and threatened glory on his 3rd start in 2019. Like everyone else that faithful Sunday, he shit his togs when he hit the front, with The Tiger prowling in the wing mirror. I was very sweet on him last November, and for 36 holes I was also very happy. I was then equally surprised at how disappointing he was from there to the house, but he seemed to just stall in the headlights of a possible Masters victory. Is that a worry? A small one, but no bigger than you would have with the majority of this
field, and a worry which also still applies to Jon Rahm, and on a bigger scale to Rory around here. I believe he will once again learn plenty from that, and he has said as much himself.

This week should set up perfectly for him. These greens will require pin point accuracy with approaching iron play to allow players to hold the correct spots and portions on them. The tougher the tee to green test, the more it will play into the hands of Cantlay. Since returning to the Tour full time in 2017 he has never been outside the seasons Top 15 in strokes gained tee to green. He lies 8th this time around, he is just robotic. A closing 61 to finish runner up at the American Express, was followed in his next outing by an opening 62 at Pebble Beach. That shows what Patrick can do when a couple of putts start to drop, and over the first two days here last year he once again certainly seemed fine on Augusta’s greens. He is at the stage of his career now where winning a major is next on the list, and at a venue this week which I think is made for him and arriving off some consistently high end finishes, this could very well be the week he breaks through.

Another who I have alluded to in recent months as being ready to take that next Major step, is DANIEL BERGER. I am a big fan of this lad, and feel the market consistently under-rates him. He did us a favour when winning at Pebble, and the way he closed that out was very impressive indeed. Having hit it out of bounds from the fearsome 18th tee box on Saturday, he hit an absolute pearler on his 72nd hole. Followed by the best 3 wood off the deck of his life to set up a closing eagle, Berger sent out a big signal that day in my opinion. He is now ready to mix it with, and take down the best the game has to offer.

An excellent 10th here in debut in 2016, he followed that the next two years with satisfactory displays as he continued to learn his way around Augusta National. He has missed the last two editions, and the latest will have hurt. He felt he was entitled to be here, as playing some of the best golf of the year, and I feel he will approach this as feeling like he’s owed a good one. A bit like that final tee shot at Pebble. As Berger says himself he isn’t one of the games most naturally talented, and he certainly isn’t one of the most hyped. This helps his price be bigger than it should most weeks, and is again the case here. What he will give you is every shred of effort he has, both in practice and tournament play, and with this set to be a tougher test than recently this week he is a man I want in my corner.

He has brought his whole game to a new level these past two years, where he now has little to no weakness. He features very highly in the scoring average on all 3 hole types, and I can see him building his score on the Par 5s and making less errors than most on the other holes. If given the opportunity to bag a maiden Major triumph, I don’t expect Daniel to turn it away.

There were a few players I was considering for a potential 5th outright play, and I wouldn’t put anyone off those I listed above at big prices. It is however one who I feel has the game to take this place apart if everything clicks that I have plumped for, and that is CAMERON CHAMP.

He was a popular selection here last year, and as such forced his price down to one where I was hesitant to get involved in the outright market. I did play him in the Top Debutant section, and as such kept a very close eye on his progress. He ultimately finished 19th, an above average display for a debutante, but he can be marked up quite a bit on that in my opinion. He dropped 7 shots on two Par 3’s on Sunday, which cost him several positions. Yes everyone will have their tales of woe over the week, but not to that extent. He, like so many before him, will have learnt from that. Take your punishment, don’t compound an error by getting too aggressive in the recovery, and limit the damage. The rest of his week was very impressive indeed, and cemented my belief that this will be a very happy hunting ground for the big hitting Californian. He is a very big price this week, and an absolutely monster price on the exchange, one that I can’t let go.

The reason for his inflated odds is down to some lacklustre showings of late, but I thought he showed more than enough last week in Texas to suggest the corner is about to be turned. A poor opening was down in the main to simply being very unlucky with the putter, an area which he does struggle with, and has been very bad for most of this year. He did end the week in Texas gaining strokes on the field on the greens, and that fillip of confidence may be just what the doctor ordered. His iron and wedge game is rounding nicely into shape, and given he will be only flicking into many of these Par 4 and 5 greens, he will have as many birdie looks as most this week. If a few drop, Champ has the ability to really challenge here. It isn’t often that you could say that about a 350/1 shot, but that is what he is on the exchange at the moment. I had planned on getting with him solely in different markets, but with the extended places and prices on offer, I feel a small stakes bet is warranted here also.

Others of Note:

It would be wrong not to mention Patrick Reed, who comfortably landed us a confident wager in the Top Former Winner section in November, but I just couldn’t find a place for him this week. That particular market has a much more robust look to it this year, with DJ the latest additions and Jordan in a much different place. In truth I feel Reed’s game is currently too dependent on his short game magic, and he will need to find a bit of improvement from tee to green if he is to better his most recent 10th here.

Last week’s display in Texas pretty much summed up the season of Hideki Matsuyama so far. Some brilliance mixed some awful stuff. He just can’t seem to string two rounds together, let alone four, and he could just find a couple too many big numbers here to be competitive.

Sergio Garcia could well surprise a few here, but I will get him on the team sheet later. That is all for me in the outright market. It’s taken a bit of discipline not to get involved in a few more, but I have enough alternative market bets to keep me entertained!

Selections:

Alternative Markets:
Top English:

Why is PAUL CASEY not clear and definite favourite with all firms here? I couldn’t believe how short Lee Westwood got in the betting after his two excellent showings in the Arnold Palmer and The Players. Absolutely massive credit for those two performances, but surely the subsequent price collapse was a big overreaction. Westwood isn’t about to start winning majors at the age of 47, and though it is admittedly unlikely that he will need to win to land this section, his outright price has transferred over here and is simply much too short.

Casey has solid claims this week, and though I very much doubt that he will ever win a Major either, he is likely to be there or thereabouts come Sunday evening. Given my lack of appetite for the chances of most of his compatriots here, that should very well be enough. While Westwoods return to form was something of a bolt from the blue, Casey has been performing very well for quite some time now. 8th in the Amex, 5th at Pebble, 10th in the AP, and 5th at Sawgrass, these are displays right from the top drawer. In that 8 week time frame he also managed to fit in a win in the Dubai Desert Classic and a 12th place finish in Saudi. Arriving now at a venue where he banked 3 consecutive top 6 finishes here amongst his last 6 appearances, I don’t expect that level to dip. His
performances in Majors are also upwardly mobile. He looks very solid, and that is exactly what you want in these sub sections.

Tyrrel Hatton has really struggled to get to grips with Augusta, and on that basis he doesn’t offer much in the way of worry, and though the conditions should suit Tommy Fleetwood I just can’t warm to him at only a point bigger than Casey. Matt Fitz is certainly short enough here also, and Justin Rose is just too inconsistent at the minute to be entertaining.

I would make Casey a strong11/4 shot, and the 4/1 available is more than big enough to get involved.

Top South African:

Louis Oosthuizen has made a career, and a lot of money, out of producing his best on the biggest stage. Winner of the Claret Jug, and runner up in all 4 majors at some stage during his career, he certainly seems to raise his game more than a notch or two for the Big 4. But his mantle as Top Dog amongst South African golfers is surely coming to an end, and the man I feel will wear that crown for years to come is the one I want to take him on with here. Though Oosty had that memorable playoff defeat here to Bubba Watson in 2012, he has only amassed 4 Top 20 finishes in his 12 appearances. That playoff defeat is his only Top 10. One could say he doesn’t raise his game as consistently here as for other Majors.

Charl Schwartzel has produced nothing recently to suggest he will even remotely threaten to reproduce his 2011 heroics. Dylan Fritteli was an excellent 5th last year, and does come in off a confidence boosting showing at the Matchplay. I really don’t place too much stock in what happens there, and though it clearly isn’t a negative, it has meant his price here is a bit shorter than it would have been. Maybe too much shorter I feel.

At the same price with plenty of firms, I think CHRISTIAAN BEZUIDENHOUT is that man to take Oosty’s mantle, and also the man to be with in this section this week. I have alluded a couple of times as to how Augusta is likely to play much tougher this week, and that will be right up the alley of Bez. In his element when grinding pars, he will plot his way around here effectively, and tick off the birdies when the opportunities present themselves. A bit in the Morikawa mould in that he gets it in play rather than pounds it off the tee, he is excellent from there in. Very efficient around the greens, a firm and fast Augusta sets up nicely for this 3 time European Tour winner. A solid Top 40 on debut last year, that can be improved upon with that experience under his belt. 11/4 is an excellent bet to top this section, with anything from 12/5 upwards worthy of support.

Top 20 Finish:

The ATM machine is back in full working order. MATT KUCHAR. Public enemy number one for a while, this top 10 churning machine is just so solid when he hits form. Ideal for when backing in this market, he simply doesn’t fritter shots away. He absolutely loves it here, which can be seen by the fact that only twice in 11 appearances has he been out of the Top 30. This includes 4 Top 10’s. The two years he didn’t bank a Top 30, he simply didn’t arrive here in his typical form. In 2015 he had only one Top 20 in his previous 4 events, and that for someone like Kuchar who for most of the last 10 years has been a Top 20 machine, represents a poor return. Last year when he missed the cut here, he came in probably the worst run of form he has been in since he made his debut here in 2010.

His showing at the Matchplay was a big improvement, certainly a bit out of the blue, and needed backing up. On a tough layout in Texas last week, he certainly did that. And managed to just about keep under the radar as well. Whereas Lee Westwood was centre stage for two weeks, and saw his exchange odds plummet below 40, Kuchar basically played a couple of shots worse in his two ‘bounce back’ two weeks, and his price remained around the 150 mark. To my eye he has just as much chance of winning this as Westwood, and also just as much chance of banking a Top 20. In a field of just 97, with at least 20 absolute no hopers, 11/4 is a cracking bet here. He is over 3/1 with SBK, and on the exchange, and that market will be very strong this week. I think everyone will be able to get what they want on at 3.8+.

I do like CAMERON CHAMP’S chances this week, and here was always likely to be my main play on him. The outright was just too tempting in the end to leave out. He finished inside the Top 20 here on debut last year, and as said earlier his performance was a good bit better than even that. He appeared to turn a corner over the weekend in Texas, and so suited is his game to this challenge that the 5/1 very much appeals.

Top Australian:

Cameron Smith capped off what was a very profitable period last backend of punting him in this section, by landing this section with shots to spare in November. I don’t dismiss him lightly this time around, but the market has now cottoned on to him, and he offers no value to me.

Jason Day has an enviable record here, and should revel in the fast conditions this week, but there are just too many inconsistencies throughout his game to tempt me in here. His iron play has betrayed him quite a few weeks this year, and even when he has hit some decent approaches, his usual trusty putter has not played ball. Maybe he is happy with his lot, but he just doesn’t seem to have the same hunger about him any more.

Adam Scott’s long game just doesn’t seem to be at it’s trusty best of late, going missing when he needs it most. That’s a worry here.

MARC LEISHMAN is the value bet here. Having confidently backed Smith in this section last year, it was Leishman over the weekend that gave me most cause for concern. And that was him coming here off one his worst period of results for quite some time. True he has missed his last two cuts in stroke play events, but did look in good nick at the Matchplay. Prior to the weekend off at Bay Hill he had made 6 consecutive cuts, prodigy 2 top 10’s and 3 top 20’s. That improvement all stemmed back to a decent performance out of nowhere here in November, and it isn’t the first time he has played well here when in no sort of form in general. He has performed as well as Day and Scott over the past couple of months overall, and I don’t see him as having less chance than those two here. At 6/1, or indeed anything from 5/1 upwards, he is the play.

Top Lefty:

Perhaps what I perceive to be the best bet of the week here in the shape of BRIAN HARMAN. A player who has hit form with a vengeance over the last few weeks, he can topple two bigger names who have been struggling in the main.

Bubba Watson is probably a more likely winner of the event than Harman, and that is reflected in their outright prices. But sometimes importing outright prices directly into these sub markets, without adjustment for the ‘likely to give their running’ factor, leads to what I would deem wrong prices. Harman has nowhere near the Augusta experience of his two illustrious lefty opponents here, but what he does have is some consistency to his game. In markets such as these, that is a big plus, and at 11/4 here, it hasn’t been factored in in my opinion. I would be prepared to back him at anything over 2/1.

Top Continental Euro:

I want to take Jon Rahm on with two rolls of the dice. He clearly could well win the event, but at just 11/10 here I feel he has to be opposed.

I am one of Viktor Hovland’s biggest fans, I love the kid, but I do wonder if he is a couple of years away from mastering the nuances of Augusta. A still slightly suspect short game can be cruelly exposed here, especially with conditions set to be so quick. I can let him run this time.

SERGIO GARCIA has missed both cuts here since winning in 2017. Indeed he has missed 9 cuts in 12 outings in all Majors since that landmark win. Rather than open the floodgates, the well has very much ran dry. I can put no reason on his sudden downturn in performance levels in the games biggest events, but it is more than possible that missing last years renewal here will provide a spark of hunger once more. Prior to his last two outings here, his course record reads very well indeed, and he has been in excellent form this term. His iron play has been super for most of 2021, and whether right or wrong he has convinced himself that he is now putting well, and for someone like Garcia that has to be a help. I envisage a good week for the Spaniard, and at 9/2 in a section with very little strength in depth, I feel he has been overlooked a little.

Henrik Stenson has seemingly forgotten how to play golf, and even when at his best he typically underperformed around here. It will be some turnaround for him to be competitive this week. Francesco Molinari only really has the one high end finish here, that when in 2019 he was another to soil his pants in the face of Tiger’s stare.

At 25/1, given how little in this section have any realistic chance, I do like the each way claims of BERND WIESBERGER. For one of his general starting prices, and standing in the game, he has an enviable record of having made all 5 cuts here. That alone could well see him finish top 4 in this section, so we only need to beat one more over the weekend for a payout. He has struggled from the tee in his stateside visits this year, but you can get away with that here, and his approach play has been pretty solid. He missed the cut in Texas last week, and indeed at The Players before that, but in the main he has performed above market expectation in his PGA Tour outings. And those in the main were in the better class events. Even when missing the cut last week, he again gained shots on the field with his approach play, and I can see him hanging around for the weekend here. Unlikely to win this section, but I do like his claims of nabbing a dividend.

Top Debutante:

This is a more limited section numerically than in recent years, though there is at least one who is likely to be an ever present here in the years to come, and who’s career wins are unlikely to be limited. WILL ZALATORIS may be a short price at 13/10, but in my opinion he deserves to be quite a bit shorter. It’s not just here he makes his debut, he has been doing it at pretty much every event he has turned up at in the past 12 months. That hasn’t stopped him from making 13 from 14 weekends, banking 10 top 25 finishes and 5 top 10’s. Quite the adoption he has made to life on the toughest Tour of all. He is a ball striking machine, who should enjoy his years at Augusta, and that can start here.

Carlos Ortiz has lost his form of late, and it would be very rare indeed for an out of form debutant to trouble the judge here. Robert McIntyre has an excellent short game, which will come in very handy around here, but I wonder if his long game will put him in too much trouble before he gets to that stage.

All told, I see Zalatoris as an odds shot here, and would be happy to play anything from 11/10 upwards.

First Round Leader:

It’s the last time this week, I promise, but it’s back to CAMERON CHAMP. It will mean backing him 3 times, but to a total of just 1.2pts in 2 of the markets, so it’s not a disaster if he flops.

Quite simply I feel he is a good putting round away from shooting the lights out somewhere, and given the flashes of brilliance he showed here last year, this would be as good a place as any to do it. At 100/1 here we are not paying much to find out.

That’s about it for me. It’s a lot of words, a lot of reading, and a lot of bets. But each one in my opinion is a good bet in it’s own right. I know many won’t like to have so many bets, or dilute stakes on some they may prefer, but my advice as ever would be to play them all. If your bank for the week requires you to scale down the stake per point, to allow for backing all the selections, this would be the route I would advise. Hopefully we have plenty of options still running for us on the back 9 on Sunday. It promises to be a cracker. Enjoy.

Recommendations:

Outright:

3pts ew Jordan Spieth 11/1 (1⁄5 odds 9 places, WH) **11/1 to 7/8/8 places with Unibet/Bet 365/Betfred all fine

2pts ew Patrick Cantlay 22/1 (1⁄5 odds 9 places, WH) **Betfred 22/1 to 8 places *Any variation of 18/1+ to 8+ places is fine

1.5pts ew Collin Morikawa 30/1 (1⁄5 odds 9 places, WH) ***30/1 with BFSB to 10 places when sent yesterday **30/1 to 8 places with 365/888/Betfred. *25/1+ to 8+ places acceptable

1.2pts ew Daniel Berger 33/1 (1⁄5 odds 10 places, PP/BFSB) **All variations of 33/1 to 8+ places acceptable

.3pt ew Cameron Champ 200/1 (1⁄5 odds 8 places, Bet 365) **150/1+ to 8+ places acceptable. *390 on the exchange win only worth a few extra pound for trading purposes

Top English:

4pts Paul Casey 4/1 (Coral/Lads/365/Skybet/WH/Boyles/Betway/Spreadex) *7/2+ acceptable. Currently

Top South African:

6pts Christiaan Bezuidenhout 11/4 (Boyles/Unibet) *12/5+ acceptable. Currently 3.55 on exchange with little liquidity. He will be available at 3.8+ there by tomorrow I imagine

Top Australian:

3pts Marc Leishman 6/1 (Coral/Lads/Boyles) *11/2 with 888/Unibet/Betfred/VBet. Strangely not included in the Betfair market at the moment. 5/1+ acceptable

Top 20 Finish:

6pts Matt Kuchar 11/4 (Unibet/Sporting Index) **I wouldn’t usually quote these two firms on their own, but he is 4.1 with SBK and currently 4.2 on the exchange. This will strengthen up later today. I don’t imagine anyone will have to take less than 11/4. *5/2+ acceptable

3pts Cameron Champ 5/1 (Betvictor/Unibet/Sporting Index) **26/5 with SBK. 6.2 also on the exchanges. *9/2+ acceptable

Top Lefty:

8pts Brian Harman 12/5 (365/WH/888) **Currently 11/4 with Boyles/Betway, but I won’t now quote that as only 3.45 on exchange, so unlikely to last. *11/5+ acceptable

Top Continental Euro:

4pts Sergio Garcia 9/2 (PP/BFSB/Coral/Lads/Betfred/VBet/Spreadex)

1pt ew Bernd Wiesberger 22/1 (1⁄5 odds 3 places, Skybet/888/Betway/Betfred/Spreadex) *20/1+ acceptable

Top Debutante:

10pts Will Zalatoris 5/4 (Skybet/WH/Betway/Boyles) **Currently 7/5 with SBK *11/10+ acceptable

First Round Leader:

.3pt ew Cameron Champ 100/1 (1⁄5 odds 7 places, Boyles/Unibet) **Any variation of 90/1 to 7-8 places is fine. *Available with PP/BFSB/WH

I hope we have a good week!

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By Ciaran Meagher
pgapreviews.com
(@CiaranMeagher3)

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